Best of 2011 (Top 5):
Escape Castle consistently defines fun. Although some puzzles may leave you feeling you've been there, done that, Escape Castle's final "puzzle" is a welcome twist on the genre, elevating it to a new level while harkening back to an age-old gaming tradition of the final boss battle.
Hermit Rabi is a satisfying little escape adventure chock-full of puzzles, logic, use of found objects, combining objects, and communicating with imaginary rabbits. With this designer you get the whole package: fantastic gameplay, intuitive and easy to use controls, and gorgeous visuals, making Robamimi one of our favorite room escape designers. So get ready for a perfect mid-week break with Hermit Rabi and Wonder Fountain.
Even if you don't speak Russian you are still probably familiar with matryoshkas, also known as nesting dolls. And just like the dolls this escape game unfolds in layers, each one revealing a lovely little surprise. Despite the fact that it is called a "mini-escape" Matryoshka contains all the bells and whistles expected in a well-designed escape game: easy inventory control, great puzzles, intuitive navigation, and even a save feature. Come and give Matryoshka a try and, even if you're a macho guy, discover the joy of playing with dolls (and escaping).
There's very little to complain about with Escape Hotel 4: the puzzles are logical and flow, the navigation is pretty intuitive (except in some hidden spaces), the translations are excellent, and the pixel hunting is at a minimum. This is Tesshi-e room escaping at its best!
Evolution has you wandering a rocky underground base filled with mysteries and puzzles, your only company an egg-headed scientist who really
likes bananas and seems to have lost his pet cat. As is the 58 Works custom, you'll pick up and use various items that come in handy here and there, and more uniquely acquire pieces of a rather cool bodysuit that gives you all sorts of new abilities. Everything that made Solitude great (an interesting environment, totally logical puzzles, simple but appropriate graphics and sound) is back in Evolution, and the new content (intermittent short cutscenes, a somewhat more artificial setting) is nothing to sneeze at either.
Awww, Device didn't even place? That was an extremely good escaper. But I suppose not that memorable.
Can't say I'm surprised with the winner, given how many notable escape-game teams conglomerated on it.
That and all the Happy Coins. Can't forget the boatload of Happy Coins. :D
I can't understand why Team Escaper is in the top 5, let alone the winner. I thought it was unremarkable, and considering the number of well-known designers who worked on it pretty dissapointing.
out of these 5 Matryoshka is the clear winner for me... but what do i know
If the game you wanted to win didn't win, remember next year that you are welcome to not only vote every day but to also campaign for it, link to voting on your social networks and ask others to vote. (A bit like American Idol, escape style, ain't it?)
Here's to looking forward to the 2012 list!
agree with black_jimmy
Thank you elle for the activism; I have campaigned for my favorite games, by designer, for years.
First off, I am glad that Neutral did not win again this year, after having won both 2008 and 2010. Neutral has excellent games and the highest standards, but released only one game late in the year, and it was a banner game. Neutral Christmas Mini Escape is extremely good, which is why I honorably mention it here.
As an aficionado, and by my expertise and professionalism, I post the true order and the justification for the top five Escape Games for 2011.
First Place: By releasing an astonishing 15 excellent games in 2011, Tesshi-e wins with The Escape Hotel 4, only to be bolstered by the incredible average rating of 4.55 of the combined 15 games. In fact, several of Tesshi-e games could take first place. A great factor to consider was the new Function feature added to the games. In addition, Tesshi-e was invaluable in the Team Escaper: Escape Castle.
Second Place: Being part of the JIG community since 2008, and the most improved developer by releasing more games with better designs over time, seven in 2011 averaging a 4.54 rating, Robamimi with Ancient Scripts. Agreeably, Hermit Rabi and Wonder Fountain is an excellent game, but just the ever slightest bit shy of Ancient Scripts.
Third Place: The new developer to the JIG community in 2011 with an impressive collection of seven excellent games averaging a 4.51 rating is Kotorinosu with Mirror Escape. The game Device is almost as good, and considerable better than the very easy Matryoshka. What an impressive new comer Kotorinosu is, and look forward to many more games from the new designer.
Fourth Place: Another regular developer in the JIG community and a consistent excellent game designer, however only releasing two games in 2011, 58works with Evolution, an escape game that is outside the box, creative and unique. Hopefully, 58works will release more games in 2012.
Fifth Place: The We are the World United feel of Team Escaper: Escape Castle simply because of the cornucopia, smorgasboard, delight in devouring dedicated designers.
The above was based upon recently playing all contending designer games for the fourth or fifth time; paying special attention to logic, puzzles, graphics, navigation, manipulation, and overall entertainment.
A big Thank-You to Jay, and all here at JIG, with special shoutouts to grinnyp, Chiktionary, Dora, Sonic Lover, and elle.
Thank you for both the shout out and for the brilliant list, Aroz!
I admit my own personal list is also a bit different than what ultimately ended up here...
Escape Castle ultimately earned its way on top because, besides being well-made and fun to play, it was more creative and innovative through the teamwork and with the twist on the ending. Plus, with its win, it rewarded several designers the top slot.
You also made a good point about 58works; their games are always rather creative and polished. I think I like them better than Tesshi-e, to tell the truth, but, as you said, Tesshi-e gets special love for being so prolific and always fulfilling our need for good escapes.
Ah heck, who am I fooling--I love them all! Nothing beats a good escape game. I can never get enough.